January 30, 2012


I was just brand new married. It was 16 1/2 years ago and I was sitting in a "Homemaking" meeting in UT - where I was going to school. It was an all-things-baby or baby-shower-themed meeting or something. A lady taught a demonstration on how to make your own Baby Wipes. She then gave the wipes she had just made to the next-due lady in the room. I was in awe. Who thought you could make your own baby wipes? Not me.

We were all given the recipe and that's all I really remember about that meeting. But I saved the recipe. And good thing - because fast forward a few years and I have just had my first baby. Tyler and I are still poor college students, and all that baby stuff was expensive! I dug out that recipe. I invested in a good Rubbermaid container and all the ingredients and hoped for the best.

To my surprise, it was VERY EASY! And they worked! I was a believer. And I have used this recipe ever since. It works out to be much cheaper than buying wipes. The baby oil and baby wash last a long time. If you buy the paper towels in bulk, they are only an initial investment and last a long time too.

Don't get me wrong - I have bought wipes too, on occasion, when I have a killer coupon that makes them free or some other good deal - but I still think these clean up a little better, they are more moist, and my kids have never had a diaper rash when using them.

Even now, as I make what I hope to be my last batch, I still swear by using homemade wipes.

We are currently potty-training our last child.
Our bathroom has looked like this, with the two-toilet scenario, for many of the last 14 years.

We use the M&M method: 1 for #1 and 2 for #2. He has almost finished this jar of candies. And he doesn't even always remember that he wants a candy afterward. That's a good sign that he has created good potty habits and there are hardly any accidents anymore. Of course, if running out of candy causes a regression, buy more candy - you may need it just a little longer. (Night-time potty-training is a totally different story. At that point we do a chart and there is a big reward when the chart is full...a future post)

Anyway, back to the wipes.

I will give you the recipe first.

*Rubbermaid or other container in roughly the same size and shape as a half-roll of paper towel. (even a LARGE margarine spread container works, I'm told)
*Paper towel roll, cut in half (Bounty works the very best)
*2 cups water
*1 T. Baby oil
*2 T. Baby wash

Pour 2 cups of water into your container. Set the lid on top but do not click shut. (This will sterilize the lid along with the container and the water). Boil in microwave on high for 4 minutes.

Careful when taking it out of the microwave - it's very hot and container will be soft. Pour in 1 T baby oil and 2 T baby wash.

Stir really well.

While the water is boiling and sterilizing in the microwave, cut your paper towel roll in half. I have a knife just for this. Because it gets kind of dull for anything else. Just grab the roll, eyeball the middle, and start cutting. Sounds weird but it's not really that hard. Just saw until you get through the cardboard core. Then put your fingers in with each hand and pull the rest apart. Easy-peasy.

Slowly (you don't want it to splash up on you) insert the cut side of the paper towel roll first into the container. Don't bother taking out the cardboard core yet. It will come out easier later. Push the paper towel roll down all the way.

Put the lid on and click it shut. Turn the container upside down for at least 10 minutes so it can cool and the liquid can coat all the towel.

As the pressure builds a little while it's cooling, it may pop up on you.

Just push it down again. You may have to do this a few times. No biggie.

When it feels cool, turn it back over. The lid should be on nice and secure. And all the towel should be damp. (Note: if you happen to leave the lid off later on or for some other reason they dry out, just spritz with water until they are damp again and they will be just fine.)

Take it off and pull out the core now. I also take a little paper towel out with it, to get rid of the cardboardiness.

Now you just pull out your wipes from the middle. It will break at the original perforations from the paper towel. Use however many you think you need.

If you use Bounty, you will be pleased that it does not need to be as thick to feel like it's working. AND the Select-A-Size Bounty is GREAT because you can select your size at the perforation marks.

Try it! I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.
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Do you need to go make some homemade Baby Wipes?

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Blue & Gold: Cub Scout Fun

Having five boys means that when the first son enters Cub Scouts, you better be ready because you, as a parent, will be involved in the Scouting program FOR.EVER. My husband and I figured out that from when our oldest son started as a cub scout in 2004, until our youngest son leaves Boy Scouts in high school, it will be 2027. That's 23 years, people.

That's a lot of Pinewood Derby cars, Blue & Gold Banquets, Day Camps, Raingutter Regatta boats, Pack meetings, Arrows of Light, etc. And that is just Cub Scouts. Boy Scouts is a whole 'nother load of new and different things.

So I thought I'd better decide to enjoy this time in my boys' lives.

We just had our Cub Scout troop's annual Blue & Gold party. Our troop's tradition is to have the dads and boys make cakes together {and moms are not allowed to help - does this really happen?} Here are my two boys' great cake creations.

Here they are excited to mix and bake their cakes. It's the night before the Blue & Gold.

The morning after: Eric is busy frosting and creating as he goes. And yes that is coconut pecan frosting from a can. Little brother is watching, anticipating his day to make the cake.

He frosts his cake to look like dirt and rocks and desert. He decorates with army guys and other items from his prized miltary set.

Eric's Military Cake is done! Here it is from all angles.

Bradley had to make his frosting from scratch. It had to be grey. He is a little nuts when the beater starts going FAST! Such a boy.

Now to frost and decorate. He is making the front of a microwave. The buttons are marshmallows with numbers on them. There is even a handle. It's funny because his first big word was "Microwave". I can still hear his cute voice yelling it!

Here are all the views of Bradley's Microwave Cake.

The boys proudly display their creations, in uniform, looking snazzy!
Ready to enter the contest. Everyone who attends gets to vote for their favorite. (Big brother - who made his share of these cakes - was at Boy Scouts that night, but even he stopped by to vote for his brother's cakes. And to eat them after...)

Bradley received some awards he had earned toward his Webelos.

Eric received his Bobcat award that night.

Here is dad (also Bradley's Webelos leader) with Kevin, our youngest. Kevin will totally know what to do when it is his turn.

The votes were tallied and our Eric won "People's Choice - the Grand Champion" for the best cake of the night. Good job honey!

It turned out to be a fun night - we were proud of both boys' creations and accomplishments!

Do you have a Cub Scout?

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January 25, 2012


I bought a sundress for my then-8-year-old daughter. She wore it and looked so cute in it.
She really was darling in it. Good color for her.

So when it got too short for her, I put it in my "Mending/ Projects" basket and planned to add a ruffle to lengthen it. Which would have been cute. But time went on and it sat neglected. Tell me I'm not the only one who forgets about timely projects like this and years later regrets it.

A few weeks ago, I was embarking on New Year's Resolution #1-of-Them ("Decreasing and Even Eliminating the Mending and Projects Piles"), and felt the sadness at my neglect of this one. Did I mention my daughter is now 13?

I was ready to toss it to charity, but then I got a brilliant idea all of a sudden!

This would make a CUTE SKIRT!

So I set to work. Ooops! Forgot to take BEFORE picture of the sundress. Got too eager to cut into it. So I smooshed it back to it's original state as best I could and took a funny BEFORE picture for you. You get the idea...

I decided the "smocked bodice" of the sundress could just act as a waistband. AL I had to do was cut off the "strappy" upper parts.

Following the upper line of the back bodice, I just cut off the top part of the front bodice to make it all level and even. My cut was just above that level line of smock-stitching.

The back straps simply got cut off at point of contact. The bias binding edge kept everything else intact.

Now it was no longer a sundress.

But my front edges were not finished.

I had to do something about that. To keep that top edge from unraveling and fraying in the wash and with wear.

So I did a simple zigzag stitch, overcasting the edge. Voila! My new waistband was finished! And the whole thing took me about 5-10 minutes tops!

Now she can wear it a little longer and Momma feels guilt no more!

Please don't go through the guilt I did - I actually forgave my self already ;). You can purchase a sundress (or other such item) that may be the not-quite-right size for someone you love, and with a little imagination, repurpose it into something just as great or better!

What can you RePurpose?

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January 24, 2012


I love to collect patterns - for clothing mostly, some crafts, but really clothing.

When I was in college, studying Clothing & Textiles, I had an instructor ask us what things we liked and did not like and would maybe change about the pattern-making industry. We had a lengthy discussion about this. One of the main things was how compact and great it was that all the pattern pieces were folded perfectly and the instructions all fit into that pattern folder from the store. (One exception was the Vogue Pattern Company - their envelopes were always bigger - part of the price too). And how when we finish a project, we try to stuff and flatten those pattern pieces to get it all painfully back into that now-too-small envelope.

Usually ripping the side right out. Then we have to tape it or rubber band it and it's a big ugly mess.

And, how do you store them?

I have a beautiful solution. But this comes with a story (of course). After I graduated from university, I moved to Colorado and wanted to work doing something in my field of interest and expertise. I had already had baby #1 and needed to be able to work from home. I found a neat lady named Anita Larson in the Denver area who made custom clothing and did alterations just like I hoped to do eventually.
So - Anita* hired me to come out to her place once a week and take a bin of alterations to fix and bring back the following week. It was great. I learned a lot from doing this. One of the things I learned was how she organized her patterns and I was knocked out by how efficient and wonderful it was!

I teach this method to my sewing students on the first pattern we sew together.

SO here you go...a step-by-step process to make your patterns organized, and store them before AND after you use them!

Gather all the components of the pattern used: envelope, pattern pieces and instructions.

You will need a manila file folder (or whatever type of folder you would like to use for your filing system), a pair of paper scissors, clear tape, and a stapler.

Cut the pattern envelope across the bottom and up the left side.

Attach the cut pattern envelope to the file folder (cut off more of the edges if necessary to make it fit - but do not cut off pertinent information. If you have to cut off important stuff, just tape this info to the back of the folder). Tape at top and bottom center to the folder. Then staple the sides in at least three places, catching the envelope and both folder layers all together.

All stapled? Good.

Now take all your pieces and fold them up to approximately the size of your folder.

Add the instructions (which only have to be folded to HALF the size intended) and they will fit!

Stuff them all in their new home! They will love you for it!

Label your pattern so you can find it easily.

You may have different ways you want to categorize and file them. Anita had a sticker system - me too - it's easy - I just use circle dot stickers and star stickers. I assign a category to each sticker. (i.e. dresses, skirts, pants, tops, jackets, children, costumes, etc.) Then I categorize further by writing notes on the tab (Client names, dates, design details - type of sleeve etc, pattern groupings, etc)

I keep the "legend" taped to the side of my filing cabinet, where I store all my patterns.

(I do not have a picture of this because it was so bleached out by the sun from the window next to my filing cabinet that the colors don't even look right. I'll redo it one day and re-post...so just use your imagination :)

**UPDATE**: I found a laminated legend in a binder, so you can see if your imagination matches the real thing...

Here is an example of another pattern in my storage.

Yes, this is a massive four-drawer file cabinet where all I store is patterns. And I have two of them. Yup, it might be a sickness. But sooooo organized...

Here's a peek in one of the drawers.

And now my newly organized and much more managable pattern goes into storage for another day. Happiness.

Are your patterns organized?

*Anita Larson is an incredibly talented lady and has since pursued other talents. She is a memory collage artist - you can see her work at ArtHonoringLife.com and a website designer at TheWebMuse.com.

Thanks for everything, Anita.

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